Edgard to the SUPER BOWL: Falcons lineman Tyson Jackson is ready

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

ATLANTA — Tyson Jackson knows just about everybody in the River Parishes is a Saints fan. He gets it.

He also knows that means just about everybody in the River Parishes hates the Atlanta Falcons. He gets that too.

When Super Bowl LI kicks off Sunday afternoon, though, some of those River Parishes folks will be changing their allegiances for a day.

Jackson, a native of Edgard, a 2005 graduate of West St. John High School and a former LSU Tigers standout defensive lineman, is going to the Super Bowl as a member of the Atlanta Falcons.

Tyson Jackson, No. 94, celebrates with his teammates during the Falcons NFC Championship Game victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Tyson Jackson, No. 94, celebrates with his teammates during the Falcons NFC Championship Game victory over the Green Bay Packers.

“I get a lot of grief,” he said. “I know people in Louisiana grow up as die hard Saints fans. I’m not going to be the guy to change that.”

Still, the 6-foot-4, 296-pound Jackson said he has been inundated with well wishes from his hometown, as well as requests for tickets.

“I think everybody in Edgard has called me or texted me to congratulate me or to ask me for tickets or jerseys,” Jackson said. “It’s only a five hour drive from Edgard to Houston, and I think everybody wants to go.”

Of course, not everyone can go to the Super Bowl, with or without a ticket.

Jackson is one of only seven players on this year’s rosters with ties to Louisiana.

He also joins former Rams great Terry Robiskie, who helped coach the Oakland Raiders to the 1984 Super Bowl title, and former teammate Quinn Johnson, who was on the Packers’ 2011 Super Bowl championship team, as West St. John High graduates who have made it to the big game.

Former West St. John coach Laury Dupont is one of Jackson’s proud fans.

“I couldn’t be more excited for him,” Dupont said. “What a great guy he is. He is a role model, a real leader. He’s a quiet guy who leads by example. When the game starts, he’s like a different person.”

Dupont said he knew Jackson was destined for greatness. A two-way lineman for West St. John, Jackson helped the Rams win back-to-back Class 1A state championships in 2003 and 2004. He was named the All-State Defensive Player of the Year in 2004, his senior season.

Jackson went on to LSU, where he was a two-time All-Southeastern Conference second-team lineman and helped the Tigers win the 2007 national title.

Jackson said those years helped him prepare for Sunday’s game.

“I’ve played in a lot of big games in high school and at LSU,” Jackson said. “Travelling to Auburn, to Florida, those were some really tough situations. Those types of games really prepared me.”

Jackson was the third overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, selected by the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent five years there, accumulating 200 tackles and nine sacks, solid numbers for his position.

In 2014 he signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Falcons. It was a rough transition, Jackson said.

“The first year was really rough,” he said. “We had a lot of injuries and things go wrong. Then in the off-season we hired new coach Dan Quinn, and he did a great job. He just really brought everything together and brought in some new guys that fit with us.”

The result was a breakthrough season in which the Falcons won the NFC South for the first time since 2012, beat the Green Bay Packers for the NFC championship and reached the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years.

Jackson even recorded his first sack of the season in the game against Green Bay, corralling Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“It was awesome,” Jackson said. “It was a big third down play. It backed up their offense and put us in a good position. I know this, you have to play every play until the referee blows his whistle. I was proud of myself for that one.”

Now Jackson is dealing with the excitement of going to the Super Bowl.

“There aren’t even words in the English dictionary to describe what it was like being on that field against the Green Bay Packers for those final seconds,” he said. “It’s indescribable to know I have the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is the top of the top, the cream of the crop. I’m really happy I get a chance to play in it.”

Jackson said he wishes he could take everybody.

“I don’t want to be the guy who says no,” he said. “The thing is, the NFL only gives us so many tickets. It’s a big headache.”